Staff Image

Subject Librarian:

Julie Kelly

Biological Systematics (also called Biological Taxonomy) is the study of the systematic classification and naming of living organisms due to biological similarities and evolutionary relationships. The traditional classification ranks are of Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species (in order from broadest to most specific). In addition, phylogenetics utilizes phylogenetic trees (or trees of evolutionary descent) to describe and visualize evolutionary relationships and genetic similarities. This subject is closely related to the topic of biodiversity, and many of these resources may also be helpful in discovering a scientific or common name associated with a given species.

Article Databases and Indexes

Academic or Scholarly Articles Subject Indexes

This resource is licensed by the MINITEX Library Information Network with state appropriations from the Minnesota Higher Education Services Office (MHESO) and the Minnesota Department of Education.
The world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier provides full text for over 4,600 scholarly (peer-reviewed) publications back to 1975. Helpful search terms include: systematic*, taxonom*, phylogen*, or nomenclature.

Indexes over 11,000 international journals in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. Titles of the print equivalent are: Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Science Citation Index, and Social Sciences Citation Index. Coverage runs from 1975 to the present. Helpful search terms include: systematic*, taxonom*, phylogen*, or nomenclature.

The premiere index for the zoological sciences, this is a comprehensive index to the world's zoological literature from approximately 6000 journals. It covers all animal taxa from protozoa to the primates, and all aspects of their life cycles, behaviors, taxonomy, ecology and evolution. The online version includes information not available in the printed index, such as taxonomic summaries of each animal discussed in an article, geographical headings and additional subject approaches. Helpful search terms include: systematic*, taxonom*, phylogen*, or nomenclature.
Printed index, 1864 - date, issued annually.

Catalogs and Bibliographies


Search with MNCAT Classic to find books, journals, etc. owned by the library. Search by keyword, subject, title, or author for materials on your topic. MNCAT Classic lacks the faceted searching of MNCAT Plus, but can be easier to use if you already have a good idea of what you're looking for. Helpful search terms include: systematic*, taxonom*, phylogen*, or nomenclature.

Internet Resources

Gateways & Megasites

This data portal of the GBIF provides international biodiversity data. Content includes species data sets; species occurrence records and information; and information on the data publishers, datasets, and data networks that share through GBIF.

"The NCBI taxonomy database contains the names of all organisms that are represented in the genetic databases with at least one nucleotide or protein sequence.""”Homepage. Searches provide links to genetic data sets and other information specific to a species or taxa group. Click on the "Taxonomy Resources" link to find a list of additional resources arranged by broad groups such as "Fungi" or "Viruses."

"uBio is an initiative within the science library community to join international efforts to create and utilize a comprehensive and collaborative catalog of known names of all living (and once-living) organisms. The Taxonomic Name Server (TNS) catalogs names and classifications to enable tools that can help users find information on living things using any of the names that may be related to an organism."--About page.

Web Sites

Animal Diversity Web is a user contributed database of animal natural history, distribution, classification, and conservation biology that is reviewed and edited by University of Michigan faculty and staff. Includes descriptions of animal taxa above the species level authored by professional biologists. "About Animal Names" gives a great, basic overview of biological systematics and scientific naming.

"Avibase is an extensive database information system about all birds of the world, containing over 5 million records about 10,000 species and 22,000 subspecies of birds, including distribution information, taxonomy, synonyms in several languages and more."--Homepage

An online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures. Great for identification and for discovery of systematic naming and relationships.

“The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is an unprecedented global partnership between the scientific community and the general public. Our goal is to make freely available to anyone knowledge about all the world’s organisms. Anybody can register as an EOL member and add text, images, videos, comments or tags to EOL pages. Expert curators ensure quality of the core collection by authenticating materials submitted by diverse projects and individual contributors.”--About EOL

Website utilizes a relational database to provide information from a variety of contributing members. Types of information include systematic classification, natural history, and distribution. Common or scientific names for a species can be searched. Helpful features in the "Tools" section include the Classification Tree and the Quick Identification tools.

The ITIS is the result of a partnership of US, Canadian, and Mexican federal agencies and other organizations working to provide a Web database with reliable information on species names and their hierarchical classification. Content includes the authority (author and date), taxonomic rank, associated synonyms and common names where available, a unique taxonomic serial number, data source information, and data quality indicators.

PLANTS Database is a USDA hosted site that provides standardized information about U.S. vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens. Species can be searched by common or scientific name, and pages are provided for searches specific to information about Invasive and Noxious Weeds & Threatened & Endangered species. Database information includes names, checklists, distributional data, characteristics, images, and systematic classification.

Periodical and Newspaper subscriptions

Electronic Journal Collections

AMNH scientific publications disseminate the results of laboratory investigations and fieldwork conducted by museum scientists and their colleagues in the areas of zoological systematics, paleontology, geology, evolution, and anthropology. This collection includes full-text PDFs of current and back issues of AMNH scientific series.

Electronic Journal Titles

"The Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics...covers significant developments in the fields of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Systematics, as they apply to all life on Earth. Essay reviews cover topics ranging from phylogeny, speciation, and molecular evolution through behavior and evolutionary physiology to population dynamics, ecosystems processes, and applications in invasion biology, conservation, and environmental management."--Journal Homepage

Several online journals cover the subject of Biological Systematics or Taxonomy. Many are specific to the study of biological groups such as botany, entomology, invertebrates, microbiology, parasitology, and zoology. Use the term "systematics" to search for journal titles in MNCat or follow the link for a listing.

Bimonthly journal of the Society of Systematic Biologists, articles cover systematic theory, principles, and methods; this includes topics of phylogeny, evolution, morphology, biogeography, paleontology, genetics, and the classification of all living things. Journal prefers use of CSE Style for article submissions.

Societies, Agencies, and Organizations

Official Agency & Organization Websites

The AAZN supports the work of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) through financial support and by facilitating liaison between the ICZN and North American zoologists. The AAZN helps distribute the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature and other related official lists and indexes.

The ASPT promotes research and teaching of taxonomy, systematics, and phylogeny of vascular and nonvascular plants.

"ISPN encourages the development and use of phylogenetic nomenclature and is overseeing the completion and implementation of a code of rules to govern phylogenetic nomenclature "” the PhyloCode."--Homepage. The site contains a moderated forum and Literature page that offers a bibliography of resources arranged by topic.

Publisher of the Systematic Biology journal. "The objective of the Society of Systematic Biologists is the advancement of the science of systematic biology in all its aspects of theory, principles, methodology, and practice, for both living and fossil organisms, with emphasis on areas of common interest to all systematic biologists regardless of individual specialization." --Homepage

Style Manuals and Writing Guides

Bibliography Software

Citation managers are software packages used to create personalized databases of citation information and notes. They allow you to: import and organize citation information from article indexes and other sources save links to pdfs and other documents, and in some cases save the document itself format citations for your papers and bibliographies using APA and many other styles include your own notes

Style Manuals

<i>American Medical Association manual of style: a guide for authors and editors</i>

Produced from the AMA, this manual is used quite extensively throughout the health sciences.

Published by the Style Manual Committee, Council of Science Editors.

Library Information

Magrath Library

1984 Buford Avenue
St. Paul Campus
Circulation: (612) 624-2233; Reference: (612) 624-1212

Andersen Horticultural Library

3675 Arboretum Drive Chaska MN 55318
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Entomology, Fisheries and Wildlife

375 Hodson Hall
St. Paul Campus

Forestry Library

B-50 Skok Hall
St. Paul Campus

Plant Pathology Library

395 Borlaug Hall
St. Paul Campus